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Refugees, sports and photography

PHOTO / : The refugee crisis in Lesbos is the worst we have seen in a long time.


We cannot forget about the refugees now in our own crisis. Through pictures, I try to remind ourselves of the community we have. The situation of refugees on Lesvos og Moria – from Afghanistan, Congo and elsewhere – is precarious and in many ways far more serious than during the early days refugee crisis some years ago. 20 people live in a place that is estimated at 000. Of these, about 2800 percent are children, many of whom are alone. There are no sanitary conditions to speak of, and the washing water has been used up early in the morning.

The conditions were extreme, and then came the corona. Of the 20, 000 are released per hour, 10 in total during the day – partly to avoid infection. In parallel with this has right-wing extremists at times flocked to the island. This is a place where refugees, aid workers and journalists are at risk of being attacked. In February, the school became the voluntary association One Happy Family at Lesbos burned down. And a couple of weeks ago, the little doctor at Moria was set on fire. Inside the walls, desperation increases, dangerous fighting ensues that can last for days. Self-harm is normal. The right to seek asylum in Europe appears as a laid-back chapter.

Yoga and Sport For Refugees

Of them charityone that is left now exists among others Yoga and Sport For Refugees (YSFR). For anyone who has never been to a refugee camp, the focus on sports can probably seem absurd. Why not just save your strength and concentrate on survival? Wouldn't it be sick, women and children who need the most help? The simple answer is that training makes sense, since it creates meaning where there is only despair to be found. The organization uses sports to help people find dignity and meaning – to find the mental and physical strength required to undergo the monotony, frustration and stagnation of their current situation.

Over the past two years, through an extensive art project with several stays at Lesbos, I have worked with refugees and migrants who work with sports through the YSFR. During my stays, I participated in various activities such as yoga, swimming, wrestling, muay thai, kung fu, kickboxing, parkour, bodybuilding and boxing. The best keep a high level, but anyone who wants to train is welcome. There are both children aged 10-12 and well-adults.

Like everything else has YSFR had to close the premises for training due to covid-19. Now they spend their time buying and distributing soap, antibac and food. They have also supplied everything from boxing equipment, sneakers and other exercise equipment so that each one can exercise on their own. Estelle Jean, YSFR's founder, says they are doing what they can to encourage the Internet and by being present. But it is very difficult now, because what can the individual do?

My encouragement is: Join YSFR's daily training challenge, and show that they are not forgotten. Hard training is there too. You can also donate money through YSFR's website – there are no expensive intermediaries.

A number unit

For a time there pictures exists everywhere, and catastrophic events are made common through media, the intrusive question is: How can we communicate about serious events through images? Today's inflation in news images with dramatic means can create distance, or perhaps a numbness, more than an engagement. Thus, the image quickly becomes more of an object than a meaning-bearer. My works are close to a journalistic, documentary style, but the motives are far from the classic disaster photograph.


Honerud's pictures should have been shown on Bærum Art Gallery in March,
but the exhibition will probably open later.

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